Ugandans are used to military presence and guns, small and big, or are expected to. Every time I have walked around the city with someone not from Uganda, they always express shock at the ease with which we take our militarised existence. Even Nigerians notice the so many guns around us. Forget the image we have of them as the most hardened breed of Africans alive. So, you should get bothered when a Ugandan complains about military presence.
I use taxis to get to work, so the taxi-park is a permanent feature of my mornings. I am always in the sea of people you see walking from one stage in the park to the other to grab a seat in a commuter mini-bus, many times after wrestling my way in (sometimes my partner has to pull me into the thing, disrespecting elders in the process, as they also fight to get themselves into the same). But you know that Jenny, the Muse-in wanted (or does she still want?) to evict these taxi-saviours of our poor vehicle ownership-less souls from her city.
This morning, a good Tuesday morning, as we disembarked from one taxi, to find a stage for another (in my case), we suddenly met another sea of people being pushed our way. We did not know why or who was pushing them back until we saw a large army green truck driving in their direction, as if to mow them down. We involuntarily turned back and in that moment, we were a massive wave of human flesh in dangerous movement that could have easily mangled the uninitiated. But I imagined all of us are seasoned taxi passengers, as nobody’s life was mangled.
Fully diverted now, we took narrow short-cuts, as if going to Kisenyi, so that we could rediscover our ways to wherever. Everywhere, there were the so-called security people. I use the word security carefully, because we can no longer tell who is a member of the armed forces, the police, vigilante groups, KCCA law enforcement, kiboko squad, PGB, etc. They all fused into one hippo of dangerous raw power.
From conversations with fellow pedestrians, I learn that Jenny, the Muse-in will be hosting the Muse-of-seven, to launch/open the New Taxi Park, that ‘she’ has renovated. This is the development that several of the Muse-in’s fans praise her for. But I bet you, many of these fans of hers do not even use the taxi-park like yours truly. That is why I call their praise some heap of empty nonsense. They may not know how it is to exist in a space where you do not feel your feet on the ground – they do not know what it means to live in suspension, which is what the Muse-in has made life for many of us who can’t afford the other side of living in Kampala. More so, when the Muse-in is doing things like building a New Park, you would think we should have the access to celebrate its opening, after all, wasn’t it built for ‘us’, the daily customers of the commuter taxis?
Hold that thought – the so-called development is of navel-gazing value to those who do not use the services she claims to develop. Us, who actually use them see this whole thing as unnecessary and to be honest, being treated with some dignity sounds like better development than building structures while we are being huddled in suspension like useless things, in order for the structures to be opened.